Bugsy Malone (1976) - Rotten Tomatoes

Bugsy Malone (1976)




Critic Consensus: Delightfully bizarre, Bugsy Malone harnesses immense charm from its cast of child actors playing wise guys with precocious pluck.

Movie Info

Here's the basic "shtick" of Bugsy Malone: it's a gangster picture enacted by children. Acted out before scaled-down sets, the film details the career of Bugsy Malone (Scott Baio), who rises to the top of the criminal ladder in 1920s New York. Whenever gunfire is called for, the kiddie crooks substitute whipped cream for bullets. Paul Williams contributes several songs, which are performed by adult singers and lip-synched by the pint-sized actors. The cast includes John Cassisi as diminutive Capone clone Fat Sam, and then-13-year-old Jodie Foster as the sultry nightclub thrush Tallulah.

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Jodie Foster
as Tallulah
John Cassisi
as Fat Sam
Martin Lev
as Dandy Dan
Ron Melelu
as Doodle
Jorge Valdez García
as Bronx Charlie
Donald Waugh
as Snake Eyes
Jon Zebrowski
as Shoulders
Michael Jackson
as Razamataz
Andrew Paul
as O'Dreary
Helen Corran
as Bangles
Dexter Fletcher
as Baby Face
John Lee
as Benny Lee
Kevin Reul
as Laughing Boy
Brian Hardy
as Jackson
Bonita Langford
as Lena Marelli
Mark Curry
as Producer
Nick Amend
as Barman
John Williams (II)
as Roxy Robinson
Herbert Norville
as Sarsaparilla Man
Louise English
as Ballet Dancer
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Critic Reviews for Bugsy Malone

All Critics (24) | Top Critics (3)

Parker's script is as sharp as a wiseguy's suit, his attention to period and genre detail a constant joy, and he coaxes scarily poised performances from his young performers.

April 18, 2014 | Full Review…

It's boisterous and good-natured, with catchy songs, and always sublimely unaware of its own strangeness.

December 30, 2006 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

Bugsy Malone is like nothing else. It's an original, a charming one, and it has yet another special performance by Jodie Foster, who at thirteen was already getting the roles that grown-up actresses complained weren't being written for women anymore.

October 23, 2004 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

This film is the brainchild of writer/director Alan Parker, and it's amazing that he's pulled it off successfully.

May 21, 2020 | Full Review…

I don't know where this film will find its audience because it's really too boring to sit that long on one joke.

October 29, 2019 | Full Review…

Worth seeing purely for the sequence where the pre-teen Mafioso open their violin cases and pull out machine guns that fire nothing but cream pies. A true original from 1976.

October 10, 2019 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Bugsy Malone

Two rival gangsters battle for turf and a new, strategically important armament during the Prohibition Era -- a cliche if the entire cast weren't children. It's a great idea: children playing the parts of hard-hearted gangsters implies that many of plots of the classic gangster films depend upon adults' childish behavior. The idea spoofs gangster movies perhaps in the way that Prizzi's Honor intended, and making the film a musical only adds to the film's conceit. And the film deals with gangster violence creatively: director Alan Parker couldn't have a child version of Joe Pesci stabbing the hell out of somebody with his mother's kitchen knife without significant ethical problems with the depiction of children and violence. So he had the tommy guns fire cream pies. Genius. And fun. The problem, however, is that the plot falls apart in the second act. Fat Sam is losing his turf war, and he ends up recruiting the lower classes to stockpile his army, but these characters come out of nowhere. Blousey - a character who would've been better played by Jodie Foster - and Bugsy's courtship fails to compel because her rejection of him comes off as entitled and bitchy. Also, the music is all lip syched with the voices provided by adults. This is the beginning of the film dropping its intelligent conceit, a denigration that is made complete during the final shootout. By the end of the film, it has broken all its own rules, and I couldn't help but feel quite disappointed. Overall, it's a great idea, but a great idea can only carry a film so far.

Jim Hunter
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer


A smartly made musical set at the time of absolute depression. All the cast are children and Bugsy Malone is one of the few films in which child actors I believe should win or at least be nominated for great acting achievment awards.

Directors Cat
Directors Cat

Super Reviewer

Good kiddie-gangster-musical flick as what I see is how do we show killing and brutal acts of violence - only bring out the custard pies and cream-firing splurge guns of course! Genius! This is a spoof of gangster films and film noir where all the roles of the gangsters, flappers, bartenders and hitmen are played by child actors at over aged 12. The outstanding presence though is that of post-Taxi Driver Jodie Foster, who swans through the film as showgirl Tallulah looking vastly more experienced and world-wise than her amateur co-stars. Writer-director Alan Parker should be applauded for creating such an accessible tongue-in-cheek take on the topic that usually makes for the murkiest, most un-child-friendly film. Definitely enjoyable for the young and old alike, and perfectly played out in period costume and setting.

Dean McKenna
Dean McKenna

Super Reviewer

Bugsy Malone Quotes

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